1/31/2013

January Cara Box Reveal!

Cara Box

Hooray! The time to participate in my first ever Cara Box reveal is here! 

Alright. I know, I know. Some of you are sitting there scratching your heads thinking: 
Girl whaaat? Say whaaat? Cara-whaaat? 

Allow me to explain. 

Every month Kaitlyn over at Wifessionals, hosts a Cara Box exchange. Basically what that means is that you, along with many other ladies who choose to participate, sign up to receive and send a snail-mail-package-of-awesomeness. Every month those who signed up are paired with two other blogger ladies. One of those ladies you send a box to, the other you receive a box from. Throughout the month you email back and forth to get to know both of them, find out what makes them tick, what they enjoy, what their hobbies and goals and dreams are etc. Not only does this pow-wow time evoke feel-good-kumbiyah-moments, but it's also an absolutely fantastic opportunity to meet new people (one of my favorite activities), make new friends and experience that giddy-child-like-excitement you used to remember when the mail man knocked at your front door with a cute little box of surprise goodies just for you.

Because we all know snail mail rocks our socks. And I don't just mean the sneaky Amazon or eBay snail mail purchases (which, of course, are also awesome). I mean the real snail mail. Thoughtful, special, unique. From friends

This months Cara Box exchange was my first and I could not have been paired with two sweeter ladies. The first (who I was lucky enough to be sending a box to!) was new blogger Rebekah over at All That Glitters. She was so genuine, sweet and easy to get to know! I had a hell of a good time making/purchasing things for Rebekah because we have so many things in common. Creating her box was so easy and fun! Meeting and getting to know her was a hoot and I look forward to keeping in touch with her in the future. To see what goodies I sent in her Cara Box you can hop on over to her Reveal post by clicking here

But almost as fantbulous as sending a Cara Box is receiving one. And if you add to that the fact that I was coincidentally paired with my long-time blog amiga Kenzie over at Life According to Kenz? Nothin' short of a big fat bowl of awesome sauce.

Kezies Cara Box arrived in a pretty pink box and as soon as I walked in the front door and spotted it I squealed with excitement and attacked it with kitchen scissors. 
Like I said, snail mail rocks my socks. 
Holla!

Inside I found this!
Just as I knew she would, Kenz hit the nail on the head. It was obvious that over the months of reading each others blogs, watching vlogs, and texting had manifested into this perfect box of Amandaisms. Things that were not only  'me' but would help me to achieve my 6 'words' I'd chosen to focus on for the new year.
Exhibit 1: Adorable, beautiful and thoughtful letter.
Exhibit 2: no-skid workout head bands to keep my hair out of my face while I train for my first half marathon with my Twinnie in the Fall. 
Exhibit 3: Girly nail polish. Kenz has seen my many Instagram photos of my nail painting obsession. She knows I love to find a new color and she said it perfectly in her note. 
Nail polish: because every girl needs more.
Exhibit 4: A totally adorable 'good morning' mug to enjoy my morning coffee or tea. There's no better way to start a day than with a nice hot mug caffeine  In a happy mug that wishes you a good morning? What the hell could be better?
Exhibit 5: These beautiful earrings. It's no secret that I'm a certified jewelry-junky. I LOVE beads, and sparkles and cute little trinkets that spice up my outfits. I've worn these little gems twice since she sent them. They're so cute and so me.
And finally, Exhibit 5: An adorable polka dot (obviously!) journal for me to organized (obviously) my thoughts and list my blessings. This just so happened to be my favorite part of my Cara Box. Not only was it thoughtful and sweet, but I also know it'll help me stay focused on my words I chose for 2013.

Kenz came up with so many great ideas and she really demonstrated she knows me, my hobbies, my dreams and my goals. 

Its official and I'm happy to report that my first Cara Box experience was fantabulous. I can't wait to participate again!

1/23/2013

So What Wednesday

So What Wednesday
Happy Wednesday, love bugs!

It's that time of the week! Here I am again linking up with Shannon and saying a big fat so what if...
  • This is my first blog post in a week. I guess technically this makes me a 'blog failure' but I don't feel all that guilty. I've had shit to do and people to see! 
  • I haven't properly blow dried or straightened my hair in god knows how long.
  • I swear at old people who drive 5 under the speed limit. 
  • Sometimes when I'm really irritated and feeling like a smartass I'll do the Jim Carrey 'Jazz Finger' routine from Bruce Almighty.
  • I saw this Someecard today and practically peed my damn pants.
  • That craptastic recorder music at the beginning of M.A.S.H. goes right through me.
  • I'm so over winter already and counting down the days to Spring. There's something magical about seeing those first little buds first appear. I want to wake up to 50 degree weather, not -20. 
  • I had three cups of coffee today. Yes, THREE! My right eye is twitching. Not sure why.
  • I gave my Bobbi Jo extra cat nip last night just so I could laugh at her big eyed stupidity and unladylike positions. 
  • I once ordered a Chicken Teriyaki sandwich at Subway and got a rubbery-chicken-ass-chunk that made me gag. Ever since then it's been Veggie Delight's. 
  • I'm petrified of Jelly Fish.
  • I've been impatient and moody this week. But then again, I'm a woman. What more do you want?
  • I haven't done a single bit of real "exercise" in like 3 weeks. As a result I feel fat and SO lazy. Nevertheless, I have plans to change this pattern come on Friday. Watch out treadmill, I'm going to abuse you! This girl is in desperate need of a nice long run.
  • Carl and I are house sitting for some friends for the next two weeks and we're viewing it as a mini vacation. 
  • I've been unbelievably 'England sick' lately. I miss our little Liverpool life, friends and family SO much. Boo to the Atlantic. Boo I say!
  • I ate a bowl of oatmeal, apple, clementine and banana for lunch today! Oh, and about 25 graham cracker gold fish dipped in this HEAVENLY Dakin Farm's Pumpkin Butter.
It was worth every freakin calorie!
  • I hurry home from work every day to watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Ha! I also day dream about how amazeballs it would be to go to a live filming.
  • When I read Twilight and The Hunger Games I pictured myself as Bella and Katniss. In my own little dream-land-fantasy-storyline-movie-in-my-head I was smokin hot with catlike reflexes, could climb a tree like a freakin Koala Bear, and had perfect hair. 
  • When I'm alone in the car I plug my iPhone into the speakers, put on Adele's Rumour Has It and belt out every word like I'm kicking ass on stage to 30,000 adoring fans. Just her and I. Duet baby!

    1/15/2013

    The Big Apple

    Honking horns, squealing tires, screaming sirens and screeching Subway trains echo and mush into one. Like the Make New Friends round we sang at Girl Scouts. Humid-sticky steam, twinkling lights and florescent flashing signs mingle with thousands upon thousands of foreign smiling faces and tight lipped New Yorkers. Bright camera's leave great white dots every time you blink, and mouth watering scents of cannoli's and pretzels and crispy cheesy pizza moisten your tongue. The constant buzz of people and cars and trains and planes hum in your ears until eventually you're desensitized and no longer find yourself searching for that siren or angry driver. Canary yellow taxis flecked with black checks dodge in and out of lanes like your little sister on Mario Kart. Confused tourists spring up like gophers from green musty Subway holes. And nutbags who sing to themselves and fight with imaginary friends are around every single block.

    The Big Apple

    Like a moth to a flame I am drawn. Always. My most favorite city on Earth. Where a part of my heart lives.
    ~
    Our girly-merry-Christmas-present-from-my-sweet-sister getaway to NYC this past weekend was truly unforgettable. On the way to Albany's Rensselaer Station (within 20 minutes of leaving our house) Mom got pulled over for speeding. My seat for Phantom of the Opera was directly behind two oinky-puppy-lovey-dovey twonks who made out the entire time, chugged wine, and waved their arms. In an attempt to find a restaurant we followed Google Maps 'vehicle' directions instead of 'pedestrian' directions (which took us in a big ass circle because of all the one-ways) for a total of 6 USELESS blocks. And last but not least (of course I've saved the best for last) while in the hotel unpacking our bags my sister realized that she'd accidentally packed my husbands pants instead of her own...and then proceeded to run and jump on the bed, only to be sprung off a good 2 feet, and helplessly flail toward the ground. Couldn't make that shit up, now could you?

    But aside from the cops, and drunk morons, and one ways, and pants fiasco - we enjoyed a truly amazing time in the City that never sleeps. Between our time on Broadway, and in Starbucks, and at the top of Rockefeller, and riding the Staten Island Ferry, and munching yum yums in Little Italy and the Magnolia Bakery - we returned home feeling utterly stuffed, exhausted, fulfilled, happy, appreciative, thankful, excited and beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to enjoy and create precious memories together in the Big Apple. Just us girls. As a family.

    In just one word, my friends:
    Amazeballs.

    And although we all know that I could sit here and bore you with a 2,000 word essay filled to the brim with ranting and raving about what we saw and what we ate and where we went...I'm not going to do that. Not this time. I shall refrain. Instead, I'm choosing to bombard this post with pictures. My precious collection of Kodak moments I captured throughout our visit. Pictures I want to add here not only to share with you, but to save in eternity on this blog so that I know they're never lost. Here they shall remain for my family and I to look at and admire years down the road. At times when we need a pick me up, or feel nostalgic and want to reminisce and remember and laugh. A place I don't have to worry will crash when my kind-of-trustworthy Dell does.

    Here. On my blog. Carefully glued in my digital scrap book.

    Put your feet up ladies and gents, and live our experience with us.
    "Next stop, Poughkeepsie!"
    Life Essentials: You've Got Mail, coffee, fruit.
    On our way!
    The Hudson
    Soon after our arrival we did as women do. We shopped.
    I drooled over my fav Frye boots
    While Sonya purchased a new pair!
    I also drooled over all things Michael Kors...Including but not limited to these shoes and his gorgeous rose gold watch that's been saved on my wish list for MONTHS.
    Mom posed with Lady Liberty.
    I posed with Boo and Philippe the travelling Starbucks Gingerbread.
    After some shopping, we meandered around Times Square 
    And oogled over the opportunity to see the actual New Years Ball! (ringing in the New Year in Times Square is high on my bucket list so this was a pee-your-pants-with-excitement moment for Amanda).
    We posed for pictures.
    And waved in the Forever 21 Jumbotron (my turquoise skinnies were like freakin' highlighters against all the black). 


     
    After admiring some of the sites, we headed to line up for our Broadway show.
    The Phantom of the Opera.
    It was the 3rd Broadway show I've ever seen and it was by far my favorite. Although I'd seen the movie MULTIPLE times, the play was spectacular. I got goosebumps, I cried and I didn't want it to end. It was a one in a life time fantastic experience. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Only without the fancy binoculars.  
    In addition, the theater was unbelievably gorgeous. 
    Philippe the travelling Starbucks gingerbread also enjoyed his Broadway experience. 
    After our play we freshened up and headed to Little Italy for some delicious Italian yum-yums. 
    We were sweet talked by an adorable Italian man decided on Cafe Napoli.
    Among the homemade Sangria...
     
     
    They offered complimentary focaccia bread, as well as fresh made pasta (I ordered Penne alla Vodka) and an unbelievably delicious tiramisu. Every single thing we ordered was fantastic (the best Italian I've ever had in fact) and I've taken the time to stash their card away in my purse for future reference. Friends - promise me you'll visit this restaurant if ever you're in Little Italy. I pinky swear won't be disappointed.


    After stuffing our bellies with wine and delicious food, we made our way rolled back to our hotel room (which ended up getting upgraded to a bigger room for free. Must have been our Vermont charm. Ha!) and settled in for the night. This was our fantastic 15th floor view of Madison Square Garden.
    It was also at this time that, from across the hotel room, I heard Sonya bellow "Oh man!!! These aren't mine, they're your goddamn husbands!!" 
    Mom and I practically pissed our pants.
    In the morning we woke and discovered the air was warm and the sky was foggy.  Unperturbed by the creeping fog, we ventured up 5th avenue toward Rockefeller Plaza for a Starbucks date and trip to the Top of the Rock for a nostalgic photo shoot.







    Once we arrived at the top of all 70 floors we were greeted by a thick white blanket of fog that draped over the entire city. Deciding to make cloudy, foggy, lemonade with our sour lemons, we remained optimistic and smiled at how Sonya and I were still able to recreate the same - albeit foggy - picture that we took over 8 years ago. 



    It's amazing to see how grown up we are now.
    And because there wasn't really much else to do (we were the only ones up there)...we made friends with two of the security guards and proceeded to embark on a dorktastic photo-shoot of our own.
     




    But somewhere between the thumbs down and ninja-kicks, God decided to grace us with a brief break in the fog and we were able to (with a little imagination and eye squinting) spot Central Park in the far distance.

    After our Rockefeller fun, we caught the D train downtown and headed to our favorite NY Pizza joint, Joe's Pizza in Greenwich Village.



    It was just as delicious as the last couple of times I'd been, and it made the perfect salty nibble before our venture down Bleecker Street to the famous Magnolia Bakery.





    After galavanting around Greenwich Village, we headed down Manhattan toward Ground Zero.
    I hate to say it but this ended up being the most disappointing part of our trip. I've been to visit Ground Zero at 2 different points previous to this past weekend, and both times was able to pay my respects by visiting the site where they had a platform/viewing area set up for those who were visiting. Both times I had been able to see/grieve/read about/pray and contemplate the deep sadness by looking into the site where the twin towers once stood. Visitors had the opportunity to, for FREE, be a part of sharing love and hope with those who were lost. It was emotional and raw and prominent. This time, 12 years after the attacks, I was looking forward to being able to view the beautiful waterfall memorials they'd built as a sign of respect for the fallen hero's and innocent men, women and children. I was looking forward to being able to breathe it all in and say prayers, and thank God for all that I have, and look into something that signified respect and appreciation. I was looking forward to seeing beauty where before I had only seen destruction. When we first arrived I noticed how the entire site of the twin towers is now a construction site where they're in the process of rebuilding 4 new Twin Tower buildings. Because of this there's an industrial fence surrounding it. Totally understandable. But It was this next discovered that upset me. There are no longer those viewing platforms with plaques or names or pictures or flowers. Instead, you have to follow a path to find the ticket vendor - where you must then PURCHASE a ticket/or tour/ or information pamphlet before you're able to see the memorial. After taking a minute to contemplate the significance of what happened where I was standing, and say a silent prayer, and snap a picture of the beautiful new Tower 1, I walked away. I walked away and contemplated how disgusting and disappointing it is that something so tragic, something that is such a huge part of our countries history, our countries unity, all of our lives - has been commercialized. Like paying to enter Disney World you must now pay to see the 911 Memorial. How very, very sad.
    After  visiting Ground Zero, we strolled towards Battery Park and quickly hopped on the State Island Ferry. This was our final hurrah before boarding our train back to Albany that evening. And although I've been on the ferry multiple times, I still can't help but look forward to the simplicity and overwhelming beauty it offers. 
    Of course a birds eye view of The Big Apple is spectacular, no one would deny that. But for me, there's just something magnificent about looking at somewhere so special from afar. Somehow it seems smaller. Reminding me of a cityscape in one of my childhood pop up books. Out there on the Staten Island Ferry, from far away in the distance, I can hold the whole city in my hand. Just like a big red apple. I can't wait to take a bite. It's good for my heart.